SHS senior running back Preston Baker (2) scores on a 47-yard run in the second quarter against West Point Friday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Yellowjackets have been through some tough times on the road back to Jackson.
Not long after losing the Class 5A State championship to Picayune last December, the SHS program was hit with the tragedy of Devin Mitchell's death.
During this season, senior linebacker David Fair of the Jackets injured his knee for the third time in his career and has been playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. Senior quarterback Gabe Myles and running back Preston Baker suffered ankle sprains.
Starkville also started the season losing three of its first four games.
Through it all, the Jackets found a way to overcome it all and finds themselves playing for the Class 5A State championship again after defeating the West Point Green Wave 29-28 in overtime Friday night.
"We have been through the worse things you could possibly name," SHS senior wide receiver Kentrell Spencer said. "We had adversity hit us in the face week in and week out, but we kept on practicing hard. We went through the blood, sweat and tears and this is a blessing."
The Jackets have won 10-straight games and take an 11-3 record to Jackson.
Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell could not be prouder of how his players stuck together through the thick and thin.
"These guys have done it year after year for the last three," Mitchell said. "It's as fine a group as a coach could ask for. They are not perfect and not flawless, but it's a great group to have."
Myles and Baker have been the leaders of the offense all season long, but it was Spencer who caught the 15-yard reception in overtime prior to Myles game-winning two-point conversion run for the Jackets.
"I had to," Spencer said about making the catch. "My hamstring was bothering me bad. I may have pulled it, but I was just doing it for the team. I had to get in some way and some how. I had to make a play on it."
Starkville now takes on Pascagoula next Saturday for a chance at the state title that eluded its grasp last season.
Mitchell said the Jackets plan to take care of business this time.
"I guarantee you this, we are going to win it," Mitchell said. "We had the experience last year of getting there and nothing is going to satisfy us until we finish that thing with a win."
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